Gophers kick Iowa when it's down

BY BEN ROSS | FEBRUARY 26, 2014 5:00 AM

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For the first time all season, the Iowa men’s basketball team suffered back-to-back losses, following up a punch to the gut from Wisconsin with a loss at Minnesota. The No. 20 Hawkeyes (19-8, 8-6 Big Ten) squandered an 11-point lead and allowed the Gophers (18-11, 7-9) to score a season-high 95 points to Iowa’s 89. The Gophers had scored 46, 49, and 54 points in their previous three contests.

Andre Hollins and Charles Buggs notched career-highs in points against Iowa, netting 27 and 13. Buggs had a total of 5 points in his entire career going into the contest.

The Black and Gold led by as much as 11 with just seven minutes left in the first half, but Minnesota made up the deficit in the time remaining and had a 4-point lead at halftime.  Devyn Marble led Iowa with 19 points in the first half, but he scored just 6 in the second frame.

“The first half probably couldn’t have started better for us,” Iowa forward Aaron White said in a release after the game. “The offense was coming so easy for us, we were in the bonus, and I think we let up on defense, and they made their run.”

Iowa used just its third different starting lineup of the season because forward Melsahn Basabe was held out for the second-straight game with an undisclosed illness. Basabe saw one minute of playing in Iowa’s previous game, against the Badgers on Feb. 22. Iowa started just one forward in White, while shooting guard Josh Oglesby made his first start of the season in place for Basabe.

“No excuses on our part, but Melsahn is one of our top players,” White said in a release. “To have him not be able to go because of sickness is tough. Other guys have to step up, and we didn’t have enough guys step up tonight.”

Minnesota hit 9-of-11 3-point field goals in the first half and continued the hot shooting to knock Iowa in the mouth from then on. The Gophers finished the game shooting 61 percent from the floor, while Iowa sank just 48 percent of its shots. The loss to Minnesota was the first in conference for Iowa when it makes at least 5 3-pointers in the game. Iowa shot 10-of-25 from long range.

Minnesota surrendered a 13-2 run to Iowa late in the game, and the lead was cut to just 2 points with a minute and a half left. But two offensive fouls on consecutive possessions forced Iowa to hack the Minnesota players, who went 24-of-29 from the free-throw line.

“When we cut it to 2, we had a couple of crazy possessions in a row and had a couple of offensive fouls called there that could have gone either way,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in a release after the game. “You fight, fight, fight to get the ball back, and then you give it right back to them. That was unfortunate.”

The Hawkeyes are also winless when the opposing bench outscores their own reserves. Led by Buggs, the Gopher bench outscored Iowa’s 26-9.

The contest against Minnesota was just the first of a three-game stretch for Iowa. The Hawkeyes will travel to Indiana on Thursday to make up a game that was canceled. Purdue caps off the marathon when it comes to Iowa City on March 2.

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